Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get distracted?
In all likelihood you should be doing something other than reading blogs right now. Yet everyone does it, and this isn’t unique to just people. Your non-profit gets distracted too.
An organization doesn’t get distracted by images on Instagram, or following links to articles like this one. No, it gets distracted by forgetting what the main thing is. It’s exciting to chase new things. These new things help us feel accomplished, and can bring praise or press. They even provide a temporary bump in impact or cash.
Yet the main thing never really changes. Amidst all the distractions we must return – sooner or later – to the main thing.
People are the Main Thing
In the wide and diverse array of missions, every one of them connects back to people. Our best stories involve people, and the lives that are touched through our work.
A wise mentor of mine once asked me to measure the time I spent on the various parts of my life. Where we put our time, money, thoughts and focus reveals our priorities.
If I’m having one of those devastatingly honest moments, I find myself disconnected, realizing that I don’t put a lot of my resources into the people around me. That a gap exists between my beliefs and my life.
The rub is that I believe so deeply in the value of people, and seeing them built up to change the world. It’s that belief that has driven me to start my various companies, and fostered my desire to become a Pastor. But there are so many ‘important’ things that grab my attention every day. Things that fall into the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ category of life but that don’t represent those things of sustaining long term values.
When we can focus on nailing the fundamentals, we grow strong.
People are your Growth
The urgency we feel causes us to look for shortcuts. A desire for validation can drive us to focus on praise-worthy goals instead of cultivating people. People love to be praised. In the non-profit world there is not enough praise going around. It is often thankless work.
Yet if we can resist the temptation to pursue those external goals, and focus on building and valuing people the rest will come anyway. It takes more time, and costs us more of ourselves. Yet we arrive at the goals together. And together you are stronger, and have the power to endure short falls and short comings.
Thinking well about Mission
One of the hardest parts of being a leader is the tension between today and the future. Being too focused on tomorrow often leads to a lack of direction today – or burning out quickly. Being too focused on today leads us to miss the benefits of developing people to help us tomorrow.
If you want to grow your community and see the world in your midst transformed – you need to focus on your people.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse